Substitution of Volatile Organic Compounds in the graphic industries – possibilities and barriers

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The Danish National Board of Industrial Injuries (previously called the Health Insurance Department), which is the official organ for assessments of industrial injuries, began around 1980 to recognise that long-term exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) can lead to lasting work-induced brain damages.
In the beginning focus was on the house painters, due to the large consumption of VOC-based paint in this area, but relatively quickly focus was also on offset printers, who daily used relatively large amounts of VOC for washing offset machinery in connection with the many colour changes, and whose activities often took place in small and poorly ventilated rooms.
Presenter Kåre Hendriksen participated, as specialist teacher for printers at Copenhagen Technical School in the mid-1980ies, in documenting that soya bean oil and similar products could be used to wash the offset printing press, and these test initialised the development of a series of Vegetable Cleaning Agents (VCA), to substitute VOC in the graphic industry.
Through a Danish research project, and later the EU-supported research- and communications project SUBSPRINT, it was shown that VCA in industries can be compared with VOC and that for some work processes it is an improvement to VOC, that the substitution was cost free, that VCA in itself is not toxic to humans, and that the substitution contributes to a reduction of VOC emission. Since then, this substitution has spread to a series of countries and to other industries, a/o due to the SUBSPRINT project.
The workshop presentation is introduced by a brief survey of the substitution’s technical possibilities, preconditions, advantages and limitations in relation to offset printing, and the barriers for spreading the substitution will be illuminated.
When the substitution was developed, there were only very few technical barriers for using VCA, and these barriers were easily overcome.
During the first years the primary obstacles for the substitution were the human ones, which can only be overcome through education and change of attitude. The presentation will focus on these attitude-related barriers and their background among the various categories of interest groups.
The problem could be called universal for substitutions or for new technology that is cost free but which carries no economic incentive to promote its implementation. Therefore, the workshop presentation will involve a debate on and exchange of experience as to what extent and how such barriers may be overcome.
In the mid-1980ies, the Danish OHS authorities as well as the environmental authorities decided to employ the regulation instrument in order to promote the implementation. The presentation will discuss to what extent this policy has in fact succeeded in securing the implementation.
Conclusively, the presentation will follow the development till today, focusing on how and why the technological development ended up to some extent as a barrier for the substitution. Why was the technological development not adapted to VCA, when the advantages in terms of both working environment, environment and technology were well-documented?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of abstracts : Closing event of the European Week for Safety and Health at Work 2003
Publication date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventClosing Event of the European Week 2003: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work - Bilbao, Spain
Duration: 24 Nov 200324 Nov 2003


ConferenceClosing Event of the European Week 2003

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